View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Friday, 10 June 2011


Just to reiterate that I am currently blogging on my other blog Shell Gallery, until July 1st.
See you over there.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Sunday 5 June

Quite a nice, sunny day with a breeze, but not very warm - again, it's only 13C on the thermometer. I am busy with preparations for a trip to the continent, as of tomorrow morning. I'll be updating on the progress of my journey to Amsterdam by mobile phone through tomorrow. I have long waits at the intermediate airports (Glasgow and Gatwick), so I have plenty of time to finish Les Miserables by Victor Hugo and make a start on Tom Jones by Henry Fielding. Next weekend, I'll be on a train for 10 hours - and you'll have to read the Shell Gallery blog to find out where that is going to take me. I already dropped hint yesterday, with the factor 50 sunblock.

The next update here on Atlantic Lines will be made on Friday 1 July, after my return to Stornoway.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Saturday 4 June

Quite a bit cooler than it was yesterday, with the mercury only reaching 13C / 55F. Cruiseliner Lauren L  was in port today, presenting a handsome sight alongside the ferry pier. Went into town to buy a book, a paper notepad and some factor 50 sunblock. Keep abreast of postings on my blog, and you'll find out what I need those for.

Times change, and they certainly have over a period of 150 years. I came across a newspaper article from 1863, which described the loss of life following a severe storm in the Minch. Nowadays, you get ample warning of bad weather, usually several days ahead. More than enough for mariners to get to the safety of a port, and for fishermen not to venture out. Furthermore, in a modern motorised vessel, even being caught out in a force 10 need not necessarily be life threatening. It was in December 1862, when a sudden storm caught a group of two dozen fishingboats at the Butt of Lewis, and blew them right across the Minch to the coast of Wester Ross and Sutherland. The wreckage lined the shores from Gairloch to Lochinver. Although the article calculated the loss of life as 120, the eventual total was "only" 31. A huge loss to the community of Ness, in the north of Lewis, without a doubt.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Friday 3 June

Another bright and sunny day, but still windy. The mercury made it up to 19C / 66F, but the wind made it feel a good deal cooler than that. Later tonight, a cold front will march in and push the mercury back, closer to 10C on Saturday. The contrasts elsewhere in Scotland will be even greater, with Aberdeen having peaked at 26C yesterday.

General Mladic made his first court appearance at the war crimes tribunal in The Hague this morning. Why do I keep referring to this? Well, read this article, and you'll get some idea. Furthermore, at the time I was working for the Dutch MOD [or DOD], and got some first-hand accounts of what happened. As described in the article.

I have completed the research into the witnesses at the Napier Commission in 1883, that is, the witnesses that were heard in Harris and Lewis, as well as St Kilda. In July, I shall continue with the witnesses from Uist and Barra, to complete the picture for the Western Isles.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Thursday 2 June

Quite a nice day, with no rain for a change. There was a steady force 5 wind going all day, but there was plenty of sunshine to be had. Turning on the computer elicited no response this morning. It turned out that the fuse in the plug had overheated and melted. Had to throw the powercord out, which had a smell of burning about it. The local computershop had a new powercord.

The Duke and Duchess of Rothesay (Charles and Camilla) were in Harris today, doing their bit to promote the Harris Tweed industry. I hope it has some success. Following its crashing decline over the past decade or two, it would take a miracle to bring it back to its former glory times. The BBC's Reporting Scotland programme did not pay any attention to it; I don't know if the commercial broadcaster did.

I nipped into the An Lanntair arts centre this afternoon, and was confronted with a collection of Time and Tide bells, an exhibition by Marcus Vergette. He is installing a dozen of the bells around the UK coastline, and one of them stands at Bosta. Last time I was there, it was not working, unfortunately. I had to tap the bell in An Lanntair to hear its tone. Apparently, the one at Bosta needs tuning. I'm bemused by that, because you usually tune a bell before it leaves the factory.

Wednesday 1 June

Not a nice day in terms of weather, you wouldn't believe it was June. Wind and driving rain. Quite unpleasant.
Ratko Mladic, the commander of the Bosnian Serb army, has arrived in Holland to face the International War Crimes Tribunal on the former Yugoslavia on Friday. I personally know one or two people who came face-to-face with Mladic at Srebrenica in July 1995, who will be able to pierce the lies he is telling.

The North Atlantic hurricane season starts today, and we promptly have a tropical disturbance homing in on Florida. 93L was given a 30% chance of developing into a formal tropical cyclone, but fell apart after crossing the Sunshine State. Two other disturbances in the Western Pacific also fell to pieces, so nothing left to write about on the TC front.

The island of Taransay is for sale, and one of the Castaways has expressed an interest: Ben Fogle. I wish him well in his endeavours; I could think of worse potential buyers.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Tuesday 31 May

Quite a nice day, in terms of weather, with fluffy clouds and good sunshine - until late afternoon, when clouds roll in and we're back to wind and rain in no time. I am feeling a lot better today, but am still on the inhaler at regular intervals. It works a treat, takes effect in seconds. Enough of me.

The island of Taransay, off the west coast of Harris, has been put up for sale for a mere £2 million. The last permanent residents left the island in 1974, but during the year 2000, three dozen people set up camp there trying to build a community for reality television series Castaway 2000. The two main buildings in the island have been done up. Taransay looks beautiful on a day like today, but you have to provide your own transport links. It is only a mile or so from Horgabost, the nearest village in Harris. The below picture was taken from Luskentyre, a few miles north of Horgabost.

This evening, the Bosnian Serb warcrimes suspect Ratko Mladic was extradited from Serbia to the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. An appeal to prevent extradition on the grounds of Mladic's ill health failed, and he was promptly flown to Rotterdam Airport, 15 miles from The Hague. Proceedings against him are expected later this week.

One person was killed in the Cuillins in Skye today, when a boulder was dislodged by a member of a group of climbers. The rock fell down onto another climber, who was killed as a result; three others were injured. One of them had to walk off the mountain to raise the alarm, injuries and all.